McIlroy Off To A Shaky Start In Houston

Rory McIlroy, playing his final start before the Masters, is having a far from perfect Houston Open. The former world number one was 3-over par after a double-bogey on the par-5 eighth, then rallied for a 73 in his afternoon round.

McIlroy, playing for the first time since losing his world number one ranking earlier this week, got off to a shaky as the 23-year-old Northern Irishman, who was replaced atop the world rankings by Tiger Woods this week, struggled to find his rhythm on an ideal day for low scoring at the Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas.

Needing a victory to leapfrog Woods, McIlroy's, whose round got off to a poor start, found respite in four birdies but admitted afterwards that he "needed to cut out the silly mistakes".

In only his ninth competitive round of the year, McIlroy maintains that he’s still getting a feel for things between the ropes.

“I've been hitting the ball great in practice,” he explained. “Obviously practice and going out here and in competitive rounds is a little bit different. I think I just need rounds just to get a bit more comfortable with what I'm doing, but it's feeling pretty good.”

Before McIlroy teed off and a testing wind arrived, there was an encouraging performance from Lee Westwood as the Englishman signed for a four-under-par 68. Westwood has reverted to an unorthodox, long-gripped and adjustable putter as he looks to endorse his claim that his short game is currently in a "brilliant" state.